…so why don’t we?
I came across some interesting survey results today: according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, self-employed business owners have the highest overall well-being of any of the professional groups surveyed. And this despite some interesting facts:
- that the data was collected during the first eight months of 2009–so these numbers take the current economic climate into account
- that they work longer hours than do people in any other occupational category
- that their well-being eclipses even that of the groups that make more money.
The write-up of the poll’s results also adds that:
Perhaps the biggest surprise in these rankings is that those working in farming, forestry, and fishing, despite being tied for the lowest average income in the 11 groups, take the fourth spot in overall well-being. This is a group of jobs that often involves difficult working conditions… though their work is often very hard, [they] may enjoy some of the same autonomous qualities in their work environment as business owners.
I bring this up not because I long to become a fisherman, a farmer, or The Boss (although, truth be told, I’ve harbored fantasies about each of those at various junctures, and continue to enjoy telling those who are not the boss of me that they are not the boss of me exactly as much as I did when I was four years old). But this study made me think.
About how the workplace is so inhospitable to women: we’re pretty much coming to the realization that forcing ourselves to fit into a workplace that was originally modeled to fit the lives of men–men with wives at home to make the meatloaf and scrub the linoleum–maybe wasn’t such a great plan after all. Now that we’ve squeezed ourselves into their round holes, we’re realizing that we can’t go forever, denying our squareness: the holes have to change their shape if we’re going to be able to breathe within them.
And about how often we feel judged: the damned-if-you-do, damned if you don’t double bind that pits us against each other, certain that every woman’s choice to do things differently is a direct criticism of our own. And how the fear of being judged, the struggle for perfection, the power of the Shoulds can be downright paralyzing.
What does this have to do with anything? It made me think about those people I know–the ones who’ve given the Shoulds a polite “Screw You” and charted their own course… and the ones who haven’t. The dancer who’s making a go of it; the painter who’s in nursing school. The Goldman refugee who’s getting her Masters in social work; the singer who’s doing PR.
Donning a leotard where society says gabardine is full of risks, from the serious (health insurance much?) to the not-so-much (what is everyone going to think?). And, as in the well-being-blessed group from the poll, full of what appear to be serious cons: longer hours, less money. Don’t get me wrong: those are very big, very real concerns. But I do wonder, are we too quick to dismiss the rewards?